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Eight books, in clumpings - Qualified Perceptions
Eight books, in clumpings
Knit One, Kill Two (by Maggie Sefton)
All modern mysteries have to have a Shtick. This one's shtick is knitting. It's kind of sweet, and certainly less boring than the one that had the shtick of antique etchings, but that's probably just me. A fine three-stars cozy.

Shaman's Crossing, Forest Mage, Renegade's Magic (by Robin Hobb)
Robin Hobb is still one of my must-buy authors; this trilogy doesn't impress me quite as much as the Liveship Traders series, but it one, tells an interesting story about the clash of two cultures, and two, made me think quite a lot about the things I didn't like about it (it's going to be hard to talk about them without some spoilers). The first book is a fairly straightforward underdog coming-of-age and going-to-school story with a strong helping of doom. The second book is pretty much All Doom All The Time, and the third book is How Could It Possibly Not All End In Disaster, except then there's a bit of a deus ex machina and it doesn't. The main character(s) is a very flawed one; he's split fairly early (though it's not totally clear until later) into two parts - the one that thinks and doesn't act, and the one that acts without thinking. Neither of these archetypes is a very satisfying main character; the second book was the most frustrating, because it's filled with Nevare angsting without really doing anything. And the repetition over and over of "Why aren't you doing what the magic wants to save the day?" "I don't know what the magic wants, it won't tell me!" "That's just because you're not listening to it!" was particularly unhelpful. The final deus ex machina turns out to be what the magic wanted, so it's not an *unfair* resolution, but it does mean all the things Nevare has been deliberately trying to do one way or another are mostly moot as far as the big plot goes. On the other hand, his personal resolution is about making a life for himself that *isn't* part of the big plot: his win is not that he resolved the arc plot, but that he manages to preserve some of the people he cares about despite being used as a tool by the arc plot. On the good side, even when the story is at its most frustrating and nothing-is-happening, it's never boring. Hobb does a remarkable job at both changing characters in an organic way and changing the reader's perception of the character, often independently of how Nevare perceives them. (Nitwit or clever free thinker? Honorable man, or self-righteous prig, or man bent by forces beyond his control?) Four stars for the series, though only three for the middle book.

Dauntless and Fearless (by Jack Cambpell)
I got the first four books in this series from jdbakermn, but seem to have lost the third. Bah. Basically, it's the story of a rag tag fugitive fleet, as led by the defrosted Captain Dylan Hunt, on the Voyager arc. :) I like a lot of it - I like that while the battles are with the enemy, the plots are internal infighting. I like Campbell's thought experiments on honor and courage and tactics and common sense and demonizing the enemy. I like the hints being dropped about the aliens, though I think some of the clues are less clueful than the characters do. Some of the characters have some interesting development, while others are over-reactive cartoons, though, and I have a hard time quite buying the "100 years of war leads to tactics being considered dishonorable and cowardly" setting that gives the author the sandbox he wants to play in. I think that I might have gotten a little frustrated with the inability of the Lost Fleet to get home had I read the whole series (they're not nearly Voyageresque distances from home, it's just getting back from behind enemy lines) but it was fine for two books. Three and a half stars, and I wish I knew where the third book was.

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters (vol. 1 and 2) by Gordon Dahlquist
A well written Victorian pulp thriller, with large dashes of erotic subplot. It's full of menacing Contessas and Comtes and jilted fiancees and weird mad science and so on, and I'm not sure why I didn't like it better. I think because there's almost no humor to it, and it is a genre I like better when it doesn't take itself quite so seriously. It's a bit reminiscent of His Dark Materials (but with more sex), and it might be a rif book, I'm not totally sure. Three stars, but someone else might like it quite a lot better. Certainly, all the reviewers quoted in the prefatory pages did.

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1 comment or Leave a comment
marcusmarcusrc From: marcusmarcusrc Date: April 9th, 2009 01:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, the 2nd book was definitely frustrating. I think it evoked some of the same feelings that the Assassin's Apprentice trilogy evoked - there's a limit to how much protagonist whining I can handle. And so much doom...

But yeah, I still liked both trilogies enough that I've read nearly everything that Robin Hobb has written, plus a couple of the Megan Lindholm books.
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